The principle of atemi in light of soft and hard.


Master Black Belt
Jan 7, 2007
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Atemi is not an art or even a technique. Atemi is a principle.

It is the principle of being extremely effective and forcing into compliance. The opposite of atemi is to be gentle and to win with minimal contact, destruction or pain.

Atemi is like a built in principle of destruction, carelessness or effectiveness within the human being. Being gentle is a natural part of sportsmanship, society as well as a form of skill in itself. Taking care not to damage an object person or action. For example taking care not to spill chemicals or tea.

I have been relying on technique alone or relative freedom in encounters for some time. In aikido, i try to rely on technique and i also shun force, in other martial arts, i try to stay cool and mostly there are no nasty encounters. however, being new to mma, it has taught me that force is necessary in many instances especially when the opponent is actively resisting or almost all out fighting with all he's got.
In mma, it is taught that for choking, when trying to slide your hand into the neck of a resisting opponent that is closing the gap of throat, it is possible to pry the space open by grabbing the opponents chin. The chin being a handle in a way. Prying is a direct way of bypassing the resistance without striking, however, it is also using the priciple of atemi. Atemi equals roughness and directness. Further, it is taught that to put pressure on the top of an opponents head is good because it is really hard to resist.

Much of it has to do with dexterity. One could give someone the task of oppening a package and he might rip the package open with brute force or spend time pulling the package around without effect. Brute force may damage the contents of the package. If one is hooking up electronics or dressing up in silk, brute force might tear the silk or destroy a jack. In real fighting, you don't care and to hurt and incapacitate the enemy is the goal. However, in training, we train not to hurt one another. If we train too soft however, we may find that hardness can defeat softness if the soft is not strategically positioned or capable of handling the force.

Training with weak people, training under unrealistic conditions or simply trying out moves on 'friends' and 'family', as brutal as a technique may be, we are going against the principles of atemi if we are exercising too much care. However, the principle of gentleness and atemi go hand in hand. what is gentle can become rough and what is rough can become gentle.

On the sleeves of my jacket, i have these attached halfgloves, and on the left glove, there is a tear. One doesnt have to be working with csi to figure out that the reason for this is that when i take the gloves off, my right hand is more dexterous and in being so, rougher and more destructive on the glove causing a tiny tear. however, if i were to take care of something, surely, my right hand is still more dexterous than my left. So then why did it tear? the answer is because i was concerned with getting the glove off effeciently and quickly and did not realize the stress i was causing.

In mma, it is ok to place ones knee on the opponents chest or grab the face while rolling. It's taking me some time to realize and make the most of the luxury of freedom. The learning never stops and there are so many moves i have yet to still internalize better and experiment with. But i now see that atemi is a principle and not only a technique of pressure points or striking.

any thoughts??